Harrogate urged to keep leaders under pressure

hsb  Gate v Burnage.  Number 10 Callum Irvine  (121215M2c)
hsb Gate v Burnage. Number 10 Callum Irvine (121215M2c)

Harrogate are aiming to crank up the pressure on National Three North leaders Chester by completing a league double at Waterloo on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).

‘Gate beat Kendal 27-5 away from home last weekend, while Chester lost 33-30 at home to Lymm.

The gap between the promotion rivals is now down to nine points, with Chester still to come to Harrogate in the league.

Team manager Graham Siswick knows ‘Gate will have to focus on their own form if they are to be in a position to overtake Chester in the coming weeks.

He said: “We want to get a hat-trick of doubles this weekend.

“If we beat Waterloo, it means we have beaten them, Burnage and Kendal home and away.

“But we are not underestimating the task.

“Waterloo are comfortable mid-table, and we will have to be on our best form.”

On Saturday, Harrogate forced Kendal offside and Callum Irvine booted an early penalty.

Following good work by backs Peter Wackett, Kyle Dench and Sam Bottomley, a 20 metres driving maul took play to the Kendal goal line and the ball was released and spun wide. Scrum half Phil Wickham supported the break which he’d created and scored a fine converted try.

Harrogate forced Kendal offside once more, and an Irvine penalty put Harrogate 13-0 up at the break.

At the start of the second half, a powerful Harrogate scrum sparked another backs attack. Full back OllieDenton joined the line from deep to split the defence for an excellent converted try.

With ten minutes left, both Dench and Tim Heaton were shown yellow cards, and the 13 ‘Gate men could not prevent Kendal from scoring a consolation try through Liam Hayton.

However, in the dying moments, Bottomley and Mike Aspinall set up another Harrogate attack which led to Denton’s second try and another Irvine touchline conversion.

Siswick responded: “We are satisfied with the result.
“We closed the gap a bit on Chester, but we are frustrated because we failed to get the bonus point.

“Our execution could be better at the moment, but we are creating try scoring chances, which is important.”

The Kendal result wasn’t without collateral damage, and Siswick is concerned by the loss of two playmakers, Wackett and Max Lewis, to injury.

Lewis suffered a broken arm, while Wackett has a hamstring injury expected to kee him out for several weeks.

Siswick said: “Max has played every game this season, but he will be out for a while.

“We will try to get Peter fit for some important games coming up soon.

“It is disappointing, we always get injuries in the course of the season but we want to keep our good running.”

He knows there will have to be a reshuffle of the squad, but insists the injuries will not weaken the team.

He said: “We have some good options available to us. We will move Tim Heaton to number eight, and bring in James Spencer from the seconds.

“I am not expecting this to weaken the squad, we just have to take it one game at a time.

“We looked fitter than Kendal, which is important.

“It is great to get back into proper routine training, on the pitch.

“Overall, we are in good heart, and the players generally are looking after themselves.”